Pandora Says High Royalty Rates Are Putting Them Out of Business

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Web radio giant (and music recommendation service) Pandora is on the verge of shutting down due to high royalty fees, says the company's founder. Despite a million daily listeners and an iPhone application that attracts roughly 40,000 new customers a day, Pandora's founder says, "We're approaching a pull-the-plug kind of decision. This is like a last stand for webcasting." The cause of death may be a decision made last year by a federal panel that doubled the per-song performance royalty of tracks played on Internet radio stations. "I was on the bus when I get this message on my Treo," Westergren tells the Washington Post. "I thought, 'We're dead.' " Pandora stands to lose 70 percent of its $25 million revenue in royalty fees. Negotiations are underway between Webcasters and SoundExchange, a company that represents artists and record companies, to lower the fees. By comparison, traditional radio stations don't pay any royalties, while satellite radio stations face a much smaller fee. On June 26th, 2007, thousands of Internet radio stations went silent to protest the higher fees.

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